NOTE: this article first appeared in the pages of SFWA Bulletin 159, Fall, 2003.
MIKE: Workshopping has almost become a cottage industry these days. There’s Clarion, of course. There’s Writers of the Future. I know Del Rey has an online workshop, and I assume other publishers do too. Worldcon almost always has a workshop. At least a dozen other conventions, some major, some incredibly minor have workshops. CompuServe has a workshop. Someone told me recently that there are more than a thousand professional and amateur writers’ workshops online.
I’ve got mixed emotions about workshops. Some work, some don’t. Some constitute a reasonable investment of a writer’s most precious capital—Time—and some constitute a total waste of it.
I’ve taught some workshops, I’ve led some workshops, I’ve observed some workshops, and I’ve participated in some workshops as a writer. I think I’ve got an idea of what separates the good ones from the bad ones, but since it’s a pretty subjective idea, I think I’d like to see your initial response to the notion and utility of workshops first.